East Lothian Council

Securing the future of Musselburgh Racecourse

Published Tuesday 27th February 18

Musselburgh Racecourse

East Lothian Council has taken a further significant step towards securing the future of Musselburgh Racecourse.

The racecourse’s current temporary licence from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which expires in April, was conditional on the requirement for an independent governance review of the Musselburgh Joint Racing Committee (MJRC) and implementation of its recommendations.

The independent review was carried out by solicitors Pinsent Masons with the joint agreement of East Lothian Council and the Lothians Racing Syndicate Ltd (LRS), which together provide membership of the MJRC. The MJRC is responsible for the management and operation of the council-owned facility. The findings of the independent governance review set out a number of options for the racecourse’s future governance.

At today’s meeting of East Lothian Council, Elected Members unanimously agreed to implement the independent review’s option of operating the racecourse as a newly-formed/compliant Associated Committee, initially on an interim basis. This will see the MJRC reconstituted as the Musselburgh Racing Associated Committee (MRAC), comprising four Elected Members (with cross-party representation) and two members representing racing interests.

A new sub-committee can also be formed to provide additional skills and expertise, which the independent governance review states has the advantage of ‘potentially improving stakeholder balance’. An Associated Committee – as recommended by the review – requires the council to hold a two-thirds majority, hence the need for a change in the committee composition.

Elected Members agreed that a report would be presented to a future meeting of the council, with recommendations assessing merits of continuing with this interim option of an Associated Committee, setting up or progressing with an Arm's Length External Organisation (ALEO), or procuring a third party supplier. In the meantime, given the need to make changes by April when the racecourse’s current licence expires, the council will proceed with the Associated Committee option as suggested by the review.

Speaking after today’s meeting, Councillor Fiona O’Donnell said:

“Musselburgh Racecourse has been a home to horseracing for more than 200 years. It is a much-loved venue which we want to see continue operating successfully – in the interests of racegoers,

our economy, the local community and its valued employees.

“It is clear that the current governance arrangements cannot continue. An independent governance review was undertaken as a licence requirement of the BHA and I am pleased that the council unanimously has agreed to implement the required changes.

“The council has done all it can to work constructively with the LRS and I have personally met and updated racecourse employees, who are its greatest asset, throughout this difficult process.

“I am pleased with the progress made as we look to secure Musselburgh Racecourse’s future and ensure we have a stronger governance structure comprising the right balance of skills and experience.

That is what we will deliver.”

As a result of the changes, there will be full consultation with racecourse employees to allow them to transfer on their existing terms and conditions into the employment of the council.

The council will now arrange for the MRAC to meet and to take forward the business of the racecourse.

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